When Shed submits his weekly selection of candidates to the people who matter at PH Towers, he's never quite sure whether there's much point in putting forward vehicles that are beyond a certain age. After all, Shed is on average twice as old as most if not all of the PH staff. Luckily it's never an issue in the general scheme of things, because those same PH staff are totally clued up on what's good and what's not, irrespective of age. Hence their approval this week of a really clean Audi 80 E which was quite literally created before some of them were.
E stands for Einspritzung, which means Injection, which in turn means 114hp rather than the puny 89hp of the carburetted non-E that the PH ad bot thinks this has. Even so, a 1994 four-door saloon with a 114hp 2.0-litre engine? If you're thinking 'meh' right now, well, it's like Vietnam, you weren't there man.
These B4 (or 8C) 80s came along in late '91/early '92. The final version to go, the Coupe, was axed in 1996, immediately B4 the first A4, or B5, arrived. We're not counting the Cabriolet in all this because that car was based on the shorter-wheelbase B3. Still, it was a handsome thing that ran from 1990 right up to 2000 and snared many a celebriddy buyer including, Shed seems to recall, Lady Di.
These B4s were in every sense the ultimate 80. Their chunky, carved-from-solid styling (especially when painted in a nice metallic, which most of them were) exerted a strong pull on aspirational execs who were happy to pick one over a Golf even though it meant sacrificing the VW's hatchback practicality. In any case, anyone with luggage to tote could opt for the small but perfectly formed Avant. Never forget either that the 80 spawned the stupidly quick RS2 Avant with its 310hp 2.2-litre turbo inline-five.
In all honesty though, normal 80s weren't that scintillating to drive, but there was something satisfyingly solid and superior about them, even in their weediest iterations. Well over a million people thought so, because that's how many folk bought them. The B4 80 was in many ways a perfect car for the class-conscious UK market. It put right all the B3's shortcomings, principally that of interior space, and was as credible outside the Savoy as it was outside a suburban school.
It's clear from the ad for this particular 80 that it has been loved and that this is a very reluctant sale. The owner admits it isn't perfect, but why should it be? It's 26 years old. Besides, his definition of 'not perfect' appears to mean nothing more than the odd paintwork scratch. Shed has just been looking at an Audi Avant in the classifieds. It is described as having 'a few dents'. His own description for it would be more along the lines of 'looks like it's been driven into the intake of a 747 engine'. We all have different standards, and in the case of this chap and his 80, they appear to be very high.
Looking as far down the MOT history as the Gov website permits, we see that it only covered 44,000 miles in the first 12 years of its life. In or around 2010, some mad roadburning fool then appears to have bought it as the annual mileage was rudely hoisted up from a gentle thousand or so to a mad ten thousand pa, and then to an utterly outrageous 16,000 the year after that.
The odometer has been rattling around at a less frantic rate in the last couple of years and currently stands at 132,000 - though you'd never know that from looking at it. The only blemish Shed can see is a slight creasing of the driver's seat cloth, hardly something to blow a gasket over.
Audi 80s were well rustproofed too. There's nothing visible on either the MOT record or the car itself to suggest otherwise, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the condition of other B4s on sale. Shed found a spanking '91 2.0 E - admittedly with only 35,000 miles and a full history to back that up - at £4,295, and a 63,000-mile 1.9 TDI Avant at a fiver under £5,000. Our fully-historied, injected manual saloon, one of fewer than 200 left on UK roads, looks good value at £1,200 with an MOT to September. It's not as useful as an Avant, but if you want understatement in metal form this is a decent shout. Or murmur.
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